I think it has happened over the last two years or so. Possibly, it started with the release of the Reference 5650G. When Patek Philippe decided to use an Aquanaut within the Advanced Research program, it transformed the image of the Aquanaut within the range. The sports watch craze has certainly gathered pace over the last 2-3 years, but for the Aquanaut one could argue that the 5650G catalysed the Aquanaut range into a different league.
Did the 5650G catalyse the Aquanaut into a different league?
It is worth just exploring a little deeper into the rationale of the Aquanaut range. The Nautilus was first released in 1976 and is described by Patek Philippe as epitomising “elegant sports watch since 1976.” The Aquanaut was released in 1997. It was initially seen as the younger brother of the Nautilus. Inspired by the Nautilus but with a more modern and chic sportiness to it. I think it is fair to say that this older/younger brother relationship persisted until very recently. With the release of the 5650G, the Aquanaut became more of a rock star. Yes, one could say that I would say this as I am an owner of the 5650G and I have had the benefit of hindsight after seeing just how successful the 5650G has been. However, I reviewed the 5650G two years ago and my conclusion then was….
As a general rule, many guys (usually Nautilus owners…LoL) look down on the Aquanaut as the poor relation of the Nautilus. Some Patek Philippe faithful have wondered why Patek Philippe chose to put this incredible new movement in the Aquanaut rather than the Nautilus. I love the fact that its in the Aquanaut and not the Nautilus. It is another incongruity that makes me love this watch. Having been the poor relation for ever, suddenly the Aquanaut is looking at the Nautilus and saying, “Hey, don’t push me”…..in that Rocky type of way. Well, I say Rocky, but this is more Arnie than Rocky. It is the Terminator. That is the name that has stuck. It does something that nothing else in the entire Patek Philippe range of watches can do. Further, this is an Aquanaut not in steel but white gold and on a rubber strap. Another incongruity, if you like. If Patek Philippe wanted to cause a stir, they did everything possible in this Aquanaut to do so.
Yes, a couple of years ago, Patek Philippe put the cat amongst the pigeons and the Aquanaut emerged a different beast – the rise of the machines began.
Over the last two years, the Aquanaut has become a very hot watch with a number of very desirable models available. The current offering across the Aquanaut range provides some excellent options. I see the Aquanaut as the most sporty of the Patek Philippe watches. The rubber strap adds to this effect. The symmetrical case does so similarly. The Aquanaut comes across as something of a tougher younger brother than the Nautilus. I think it would be a great shame to see a complication like a perpetual calendar in a watch like the Aquanaut. In the Nautilus, I think that works because the Nautilus is more chic than sport. The Aquanaut, on the other hand, is more sporty and to my mind needs to keep the degree of complications more limited. I hope Patek Philippe keep the Aquanaut pure.
Yes, the Aquanaut is, for me, the perfect sports watch from Patek Philippe. And if I had to choose just one…..then it would be my 5650G! No surprise there. If I was looking to add another, I think I would be tempted by the base model – 5167A. For me, that would be a very nice addition to my collection. I also find myself staring at that 5167R rather a lot. Actually, really a lot!